I was reading a Hot Air article recounting how the Mayor of Minneapolis, Betsy Hodges, was shouted down by a loud unruly crowd of protesters as she attempted to announce the appointment of a new police chief. The number of protesters couldn’t be determined from viewing the video although they didn’t appear to be a large group – just a noisy one. A news report from KARE11 later said that there were “dozens” of them.
Watch the accompanying video (only 2:04) and you’ll see and hear one black man who spews his venom loudly and without pause. The Mayor couldn’t have gotten a word in if she’d tried, as the shouter just didn’t pause long enough during his tirade, which as usual, contained some profanities.
He yelled the same thing, over and over; he apparently didn’t expect to have that much time to speak and hadn’t prepared a more pithy list of complaints.
We’re seeing more and more of this “Heckler’s veto” technique by leftists to shout down anyone they deem not worthy of speaking. It’s become rampant on our college campuses; examples include Charles Murray, Ann Coulter, and Milo Yiannopoulos, all prevented from speaking by unruly mobs of protesters.
While there is a formal legal definition of a “Heckler’s veto,” the term is most often used to describe shouting and loud heckling or otherwise preventing a speaker from speaking. The video shows a textbook example of the “Heckler’s veto” in action. The protesters weren’t there to discuss grievances, they were there to demand that Mayor Hodges’ resign along with the City Council. They weren’t there for a discussion, they wanted no conversation, they were there to disrupt her announcement with loud incessant shouting.
It’s bad enough in the college environment, but in my view, it’s downright insidious when used to silence political discourse by an elected official. In the case of Mayor Hodges, “dozens” of protesters demanded that she resign because the protesters didn’t have confidence in her ability to lead. The question becomes, who do they think they are? No one elected them to speak for the rest of Minneapolis.
Mayor Hodges says that she will not resign, but others have made the same statement only stepping down at a later date. While I don’t have a “dog in this hunt,” I do hope that she continues in her job as Mayor until the citizens of Minneapolis decide to impeach her or elect someone else – in other words, until she is legally removed from office.
Here’s the problem. Mayor Betsy Hodges was elected in 2013 with 49% of the vote over the 2nd place finisher Mark Andrew who tallied 31.4% of the vote. The black candidate, Don Samuels, received 13% of the vote.
So, Mayor Hodges won an election and was legally sworn in as Mayor. She won by about 14,000 votes over the runner-up Mark Andrew, and now a couple of dozen (if that many) protesters want to demand that their 20 or 30 loud voices count for more than the 14,000 voters who awarded her the job?
That is what disturbs me.
A horde of agitators can make so much noise and create so much mayhem that they create the impression that they represent a much larger segment of the citizenry than they actually do.
They are following Alinsky’s First Rule, which states that “power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have.”
When their loud and contentious voices make it impossible for a speaker to be heard, they draw media attention and the media publicity results in an exaggerated perception of how much power they actually possess. Did you notice how many cameras (not just cellphones) were covering the press conference? And when I went to select a video for inclusion here, I found about two dozen YouTube videos of that press conference. Those protesters got a lot of publicity for their tirade; just exactly what they wanted.
Unfortunately, the left has learned that a “squeaky wheel gets the grease,” which means that the media focuses on the actions of a mob when it becomes newsworthy by causing disruption, blocked streets, property damage, fires or riots.
We are witnessing an attack on our First Amendment by those who believe that it’s their prerogative to decide who gets heard and who gets shouted down.
The First Amendment guarantees the protesters freedom of speech and the right to peaceably assemble, but it does not give them the right to interfere with other individuals to do the same. They may petition the government for a redress of grievances, but they may not prevent others from speaking freely.
This approach of using a “Heckler’s veto” to silence political opponents is in its infancy. It’s been increasing on college campuses like a malignant growth and is spilling over into other areas of political discourse. It needs to be stopped before it destroys the freedom of speech that has kept this country strong.
We need to be as firm and forceful in supporting and defending our First Amendment rights as we are in defending our Second Amendment rights.